Sunday, November 21, 2010

Anatomy of a Toerail

Curiosity got the better of me this weekend after reading a post on the Plastic Classic Forum regarding the Alberg 35 toerail.  I cut out a 2' section just to see what the damn thing looks like under the mahogany.  Even though I will be replacing the toerail on Magic, I have deliberately left it in place because it acts as a nice epoxy 'splash guard'.

But I have been building up a disaster in my head for some time now, wondering what I would find when I opened it up.  It seems like whenever I uncover something on the boat or my house (built ~1860) I am usually greeted by something wet and rotten that I can't cover back up without fixing and doubling my original estimate for cost and time.

This happened to me this fall when I needed to replace 2 rotten boards on my front porch.  Of course as soon as I pulled the boards out to replace I found that the entire structure of the porch was built by beavers who had never heard of dimensional lumber (the main porch beam was literally a log with some bark still on it).   Anyway, to make a long story short, I spent 2 weekends and several nights after work gutting the entire porch and rebuilding from scratch.  This is the story of my life.

So I was pleasantly surprised to find that when I pulled the toerail section off on the starboard bow, it seemed really clean.  No gaping holes, no delamination, and a hull to deck joint that actually appears sound.  I'm sure that once I take the rest of the rail off things will be different, but let me have my fantasy for now.

On the deck front, I finally got around to taking the port side deck off.  Now that it is too cold for more glassing, I decided to focus on getting ready for next spring.  First, I pulled the chainplates with little drama and found that 2 of them were 'new'.  By 'new' I mean that they were not the originals.  I haven't cleaned them up yet to see if they are worth keeping but they do look a lot cleaner than the old ones where they pass through the deck.  Once they were clear, I broke out the circular saw.

It's amazing how comfortable I am with taking a circular saw to my deck now.  When I first started on this project last spring, I agonized over cutting into the decks and actually lost sleep over it in the days preceding the initial work.  Today I just went to town and had the entire port side deck off in under 20 minutes.   As expected, the entire core was soaking wet and it didn't take much work to get the core out.  In fact, I was able to pull up most of the balsa in strips with my fingers and no chisel.

The areas around the chainplates were soo bad that there wasn't even any wood left around them.  I think it just completely dissoved and leaked into the cabin over the years.  There was just a top skin, a bottom skin and a bit of brown soup in between. 

I didn't have the time (or desire) to grind the bevels on the edges this weekend.   That will be next, I hope to get it out of the way over thanksgiving weekend, but given our tight schedule, I wouldn't be surprised if it got put off. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Cool Stuff

One of the regular contributors on the Plastic Classic Forum contacted me the other day because she had found some references to one of the previous owners of Magic.  As it turned out, I had bought the boat from him almost 10 years ago and have kept in touch with him since.  Anyway, it got me to thinking about the first keeper of Magic (I am the 3rd) so I started digging through some of the paperwork that came with the boat.  I never did find the first keeper's name (I'll have to make some calls), but I did find a few cool items that I thought I'd share.  The first was a handwritten note still in the envelope with a an actual blueprint of the Alberg 35 line drawing.  Unfortunately, the drawing had been sitting in the envelope since 1984, so it wasn't in great shape, but the interesting thing about this find was that it was sent by none other than Carl Alberg, the designer of Magic and many, many other boats.   He was retired by 1984, but must have still had a stack of line drawings in his office.

So even though the blueprint was in poor shape I am going to see if I can get it flattened out to frame, but in the meantime, below is a copy of the same blueprint I had purchased from the Peabody-Essex Museum a few years back.

Oh my... what nice lines!

Back to reality for Magic though.  It's gotten too cold to really expect that I can do any more glass work over the winter, so I have to start deciding what projects I can get done.  There are way too many to count, but I will probably at least get the sanding prep for the third layer of biaxial cloth in the next week or so.  Beyond that I will probably get the port deck and poop deck cut off and grind the bevels over the next 1-2 months.  I sure wish I had some sort of dust collection system for the grinder because there is nothing more messy than grinding bevels in glass.  It just gets everywhere.

Once that's complete I think it will be time to pull all the ports (I pulled one last year just to see) and maybe get to working (or at least thinking about) the cockpit coamings and toerail.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Starboard Sidedeck

It seems like whenever I estimate time for a particular segment of this boat project I am WAYYYY off. Even when I estimate how long it will take, double it, and then add a 50% overage factor, I still seem to be wrong. If this were my business, I think I would quickly go bankrupt. Anyway, true to form, my estimate was off again, but the starboard side deck project actually took less time than expected even though I almost blew it by laying up the epoxy when it was too cold.

I started Friday afternoon and used the same approach as the foredeck. Cut out 2 layers of biaxial cloth, the first covering just the balsa core and the second covering the core and the beveled taper along the cabin and edge of the deck. The only notable difference from the foredeck section was the chainplate cuts. I wrapped each chainplate with 3 or 4 turns of clear packing tape and set them about 2" in their holes.

Layer 1

Layer 2
It was about 4:30 by the time I got everything ready to go and didn't have anything else going on so I decided I would do the layup right then.  The only problem was that it was cold; probably in the low 50's by the time I started.  Because of the cold I wasn't worried about anything kicking too quickly so I mixed up 2-24 oz batches of epoxy (16 resin, 8 hardener) and got to work.  I got the first layer and part of the second wetted out and in place before I ran out of epoxy.  By that time I was really feeling the cold and decided that I would finish in the morning because the epoxy was getting pretty thick (not from hardening, but from the cold).   
When I got up Saturday morning it was about 35 degrees and no more than 40 degrees in the shed.  The layup was hardening up, but Very slowly.  I had hoped to finish the layup right away since it was still very green, but it was clear that an amine blush was starting to form (the surface felt greasy).  This worried me enough to post to the Plastic Classic Forum to see if I should proceed prior to washing the surface and removing the blush.  I'm glad I did because Tim thought that it would be best to get the blush off before I continued even though the epoxy was still green.  I put 3-100 watt work lamps close to the layup and left it to warm up for a few hours.  When I came back everything had hardened up more and I was able to wipe the blush off with some soapy water and a sponge.  I put the lamps back on and let everything dry for a few hours and then finished the layup.

I ran the 100 watt lamps all night last night and it hardened up nicely. Still green but on it's way. I'll probably keep the lamps on again tonight to make sure everything cures properly. It's certainly not perfect, there are a few bubbles that I would rather not see, but all and all I am happy with my progress. Below is a photo of one of the chainplate holes. I think it looks pretty clean. Note that you can still see the solid glass plug underneath (6 layers of biaxial, no balsa).

Given how cold it is starting to get (and no warm days forecast for the next 10 days), this may be my last layup for the season. I'd really like to finish up what I've done by getting all 3 layers of biaxial down, but I might be pushing my luck at this point.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Something Sticky This Way Comes

With warm weather in the forecast I decided to take advantage of it and took the day off to get part of the top skin on.  While the weather was warm it was also raining hard so I had some concerns as to whether I should start on the glasswork.  Fortunately the Stimson shed has held up extremely well (its been up a year) and there wasn't a drop of water on the boat.

First layer laid with first section of second layer to
show overlap of seams.
 spent the first few hours this morning measuring and cutting the biaxial glass for the foredeck.  I cut and laid out the first layer and then cut out the second layer so the seams would be staggered.  The first layer was cut to only cover the balsa and the second was cut to cover the balsa and most of the 2 inch flange that I ground into the adjacent deck edges earlier this year.

Once both layers of glass were cut and labeled, I rolled it up and set it aside and vacuumed the deck followed with an acetone wipe down.  Next up I poured 16 oz of resin into 5 yogurt containers (I save up my used 1 quart yogurt containers for this purpose).  I made a final check to make sure everything was ready (chip brushes, plastic spreader trowels, paper towels, etc...).

First layer biaxial cut and ready to glass

Mixed up 8 oz of resin into the first 2 yogurt containers and got to work.  I wetted out and laid the first layer without incident and then started over with layer number 2.   9 yogurt containers later (16 oz resin, 8 oz hardener) the foredeck was done.  I rolled out the layup with the air bubble getter-outer to get everything flat and clear and then put a layer of plastic followed by 30 bags of sand.  Now I wait...  I hope to get 2 layers on the sidedeck this weekend and with any luck I can get a third layer on too.

2 layers of sticky goodness just prior to
rolling out air bubbles and covering
for the night.
Lovely isn't it?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Cleanup, Sanding and Ready To Go

The sanding discs from McMaster-Carr showed up the day after I ordered them (really fast shipping with standard ship rate) and I blocked off a few hours on Sunday to prep the foredeck and starboard side deck for the top skin.  I haven't torn up the port side deck yet and plan on getting that ready before it gets too cold to work.

After a summer of doing next to nothing on the boat there was a lot of cleanup to do before I started sanding the deck in prep for the new skin.  I filled up 2 garbage bags of detritus that had accumulated and tidied up the workbench so I could get some work done.

Once complete I setup the 6" sander and 20 foot shopvac hose and got busy.   The big sander coupled with the shopvac made for a really pleasant (except for the noise) experience.  I started out with my respirator but quickly found that zero dust was escaping and ended up taking it off. 2 hours later (and 25, 60 grit discs) the balsa and surrounding areas were are ready for the top skin.  Of course I still have to wipe everything down with acetone to make sure there is no contamination, but I am tentatively planning on taking a day off this week since the weather looks to be warm.  With any luck, I'll have the first 2 layers of top skin on by the end of the week.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Summer is Over

Well, time to get back at this thing.  Summer is done, my knee is better (has been since July), Mountain bike racing is done, house projects done, sailing the daysailer is done, what's left?  Oh, right Magic...

Well, I ordered $100 in sandpaper this morning and will start getting the foredeck area ready for the top skin this weekend.  My plan is to get the top skin all in place before it gets too cold.  Then I can pick away at the fun task of prepping the top skin for fairing over the winter when all I will need is power and my sander.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Bum Knee

I should learn not to mix passions too close together.  Mountain Biking is one of my other passions in life and I managed to crash a bit too hard on Thursday night.  I clipped a sappling and was forced into another tree and went down with all my weight on my knee in a really sick and twisted position.  I knew right away that something was terribly wrong because I attempted to sit up and almost threw up.  After a few minutes I was able to get myself together enough to ride the mile or so back to the trailhead and my car.  Most of my lateral and rotational stability had been replaced by sharp searing pain.

I had a miserable night's sleep and went to Concord Orthopedics Friday where the doctor told me that I was to put on a brace and keep a close eye on the couch for the next 4-6 weeks.  No surgery is good, but a 2nd degree MCL tear puts a damper on any boat related work.  After 3 days, I feel like there is some healing going on, but it looks like I won't be able to monkey around on the boat ladder for several weeks.


Friday, April 30, 2010

Winding Down

Well, I'm pretty exhausted.  Working from 7 in the morning to 9 or 10 at night is taking its toll but I have gotten a lot done; not as much as I had hoped, but pretty good for a amateur.  Because of previous commitments, I won't be able to get much done this weekend so progress will now slow down.  Originally, I thought that I would be able to get everything recored and glassed back to the forward end of the cockpit.  I must have been pretty high.  I did manage to recore everything but the port side deck, but was only able to fully glass the cabintop.  I may have enough time to get one layer of glass on the foredeck before the weekend is out, but probably not.

I last left off with the new foredeck core cut out and ready to glue in.  Since this was such a big section and I was still unsure about how much epoxy I could mix and spread out, I enlisted the help of my wife for mixing duty so I could focus on getting all the pieces glued in.

Here is the routine that seemed to work:
1. Mix and spread unthickened epoxy on inner skin and scrim side of new balsa core. 
2. Mix heavily thickened batch and force under tapered edge.
3. Mix slightly thinner thickened batch and notch-trowel onto inner skin.  Place core in place and wiggle it around
4. When all the pieces of core are in place, put a smooth layer on the core and work it into any exposed kerfs.
5. Cover with plastic and weight down with plastic bags filled with sand.

Everything went pretty well except at one point I lost my footing and landed right on my ass into a section of freshly notch-troweled epoxy.  My Carharts are now bulletproof in the rear end. I am still amazed at how much time doing this takes.  If you ever do this job, take the time you think it will take and triple it.

Next up I sanded down the new core on the cabintop and applied 2 layers of 1708 biaxial cloth that I had cut out earlier using paper templates to size.  I think this is one of those jobs where it helps to have experience (I don't).  I learned a few days later while applying a third layer that it's easier if you roll up the cloth and unroll it once you have spread out epoxy. Fortunately, 1708 is very forgiving (unlike single weave cloth which skews and stretches if you try to move it around once it is in the epoxy).

I really like using bags of sand because you can sort of mold them to fit any curve you need and they seem to apply even pressure to layups like this.  I found them at the grocery store and they are simply 2.5 gallon ziplock bags.  I filled each one with roughly 10 pounds of sand.   They are nice and portable and can be used for small applications or larger one provided you have enough bags.  I think I used 19 bags for the cabintop.  To the right is what it looks like after 2 of 3 layers.  I would have applied them all at once, but I had only intended to use 2 layers... but when I pulled the bags and plastic off the layup, it was clear that I would either need to fill the surface fair or use another layer. 

While waiting for everything to cure properly,  I removed the starboard chainplates which actually came out easier than I expected given that they have been in place for almost 50 years.  I haven't taken any pictures yet, but I'll need new chainplates.  These ones are probably not safe anymore.  After the chainplates were removed, I braced the side deck from underneath with a few 2x3s and I used the 7-1/4 inch circular saw to rip out the starboard side deck.  That came out really easy because the core was pretty much entirely saturated and had debonded from the top and bottom skin.  It's amazing there was any strength left at all in the deck.  With the exception of one small area most of the core came out easily. 
Start to finish time for removing 13 feet of skin and core and cutting out notches for 3 chainplates and 3 stanchions took about 2 hours.  I went to lunch to let the nooks and crannies dry out with the help of a blower on the area and came back and ground tapers along all the edges (Not to brag or anything, but I am getting really good with the grinder).  Including the necessary vacuuming cleanup after grinding tapers it took another 2 hours.  So, roughly 4 hours to be ready for new core. 

I finished out the day by getting the sidedeck core cut and fitted.  A lot of time was spent building paper templates and figuring out the best way to do the cutouts for the chainplates. I also did a general cleanup of the shop area since I seemed to be sticking to everything I touched.

This morning I glued in the sidedeck core pieces, but ran out of mixing buckets before I could go further, so I had to take a trip up to Home Depot to get some.   For months I had been saving 1 quart yogurt containers and thought that I would have enough for the entire job... Wrong.

I worked on filling in the cutout areas in the foredeck for various through deck fittings.  For all of the loadable fittings I epoxied in 5 layers of biax cloth.  For anything else I just filled with aerosil thickened epoxy.  The one exception was the very forward part of the foredeck.  The boat had a anchor roller mounted through the decks but I'm not sure that I want to use that particular roller again. Anyway because I don't know what I am going to be using, I decided to glass the entire forward linear foot of the foredeck.  I cut out 5 layers of cloth and glassed them in place.  I came back a few hours later after it had kicked and filled up to core level with aerosil thickened epoxy.   If all goes well, I should be ready to sand and get a layer of glass on before the weekend is over.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Recore Marathon

So I took this week off work with the intent of getting as much done on the recore project as possible.  Not too hot, not too cold, and it's too early for black flies and mosquitoes.  Well, the temps have been good; black flies are getting worse each day.  I think the little bastards know that they can attack as soon as I mix up a batch of epoxy; knowing full well that I can't swat them or I will end up covered in stickiness.

Anyway, I was really happy with my first foray into the recore last week when I laminated up 6 small areas on the cabintop to get used to the process.  However, based on a discussion I had on Plastic Classic forum, I decided not to attempt to layup the core and cloth at the same time.  Tim Lackey reasoned that it was more important to ensure a good bond with the bottom skin than to worry about saving a few hours time.  He also noted that as your layup size gets bigger, so does the difficulty.  Boy was he right.

Late last week I decided it was time to tackle the main cabintop with a large section of core.  First I wet out the inner skin, edges, and each of the pieces of core that I cut and fitted earlier in the week.  Next I mixed up a thickened batch (Aerosil) and troweled it in the gaps between the inner skin and outer skin along the edges.  Time for another batch, this time slathering it onto the inner skin with a notched trowel.  At this point I set each of  the core pieces onto the inner skin and squished it down until the thickened epoxy squeezed out the edges.... Phew...

By now I was sweating like a pig and worried that everything would kick before I got it in place.  Once I got the final piece all set, I mixed up another thickened batch and slathered it over the top of  the core making sure to fill any gaps and kerf lines in the core.  I also partially filled the core-less areas where deck fittings are to be placed later on (so not too much heat builds up; I filled these after first batch kicked).  I finished up by putting bags of sand over the core to keep it everything in place while it cured.

Everything went well, but it was a bit stressful.  First, I was worried some of the bigger batches would kick before I spread them.  Second, I was doing all the mixing myself, so I had a lot of trips up and down the ladder and staging.  I don't think I would have been comfortable adding the cloth step at the same time.  I would have had to fill all the core-less areas immediately, risking too much heat buildup; but mostly, it would have just been way too much at once... I'll leave that to the pros and slow things down a bit.  It's not like I am launching this year anyway.

Saturday,  I tackled the foredecks.  First I spent more time than I'd like taping up thru-deck holes and shoring up the decks from the inside.  This is probably a good time to mention how bad I am at estimating time for projects like this.  I have a bad tendency to only focus on the actual work of doing the recore, I forget to calculate the time spent doing things like taping up holes, shoring up the decks, grinding tapers, cleaning up.  All this adds up to more time than the actual recore work itself.  To  make a long story short, I actually thought that I could cut the foredecks out, grind tapers, sand and prep inner skin, and install the core on all on Saturday.  HAAAAA.

I did manage to get all the foredeck cut out and remove all the balsa.  It was clear even before cutting the skin that the core was in bad shape throughout the entire foredeck area, but when I cut off the top skin, I found that while there were localized areas of rotten core (around stanchions and poorly mounted cleats), there was a lot of good core that had de-bonded from the top skin.  Unfortunately for me, these areas clung tenaciously to the bottom skin. I spent about 2.5 hours using a myriad of power and non-powered tools to get it off.  I knocked off at about 3:30 on Saturday and because of a previous commitment, I couldn't do anything Sunday, so I started back up again this morning and used my mad time estimation skilz to confidently tell my wife that I would be finished with the foredeck core today so we could take the kids to the Museum of Science tomorrow... Oops.  I spent the entire day grinding tapers, sanding and prepping the cabintop where I installed the core last week and cleaning up the foreskin (ha).

I finished by fitting all the balsa that I'll need for tomorrow when I actually install the foredeck core.   By far the majority of time spent today was on the tapers.  This is not a skill that I think I will need that much in the future, but I am getting very good at putting a beveled taper with a 4 inch angle grinder and 24 grit discs.
A few notes on tools used over the past few days:
1.  RIDGID ZRR2611 6" variable speed random orbit sander -  This is the first time I have had the chance to really use it and I am really
impressed.  It is quite heavy so it is well suited for gravity assisted applications like this one but I wouldn't want to use it on a wall or overhead.  In addition to variable speed, it has a orbit oscillation adjustment that you can switch from 1/8 to 1/4 inch oscillations.  It also has a real dust port and full cowl around the sanding pad, so when hooked to the vac, it is really dustless.
2.  I have been using my 5" DeWalt 18v cordless circular saw to cut the decks but even though I have 3 batteries, I can only cut so much before I down time waiting for charging.  I got sick of waiting around for this, so I broke out my corded Bosch CS20 7-1/4" circular saw and what a difference (duh, of course)...

I'll still need the DeWalt for tight areas, and the Dremel Multimax for even tighter areas (works great for cutting out stanchion areas), but for long runs, I will be using the big Bosch in the future.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Something Sticky

It's a good thing to start building the boat up again (however small) instead of just tearing things down.  Last night I was able to finish cutting out all the biaxial cloth and fine tune each piece so I was ready to go.  Not exactly a CNC job but I tried to waste as little cloth as possible.

Once all the cloth was cut out, I still had plenty of light and warmth (55 or so) so I decided to crack open the epoxy for the first time (other than a test layup) and get started on the first of many layups.  Last weekend I had cut out and setup 3 layers of cloth to fill in the hole where the wood stove chimney used to be here.

I mixed up 2 oz of System Three resin with 1 oz hardener (un-thickened).  I have never used System Three in the past, I have always used West System, but I just couldn't justify the huge price difference, and I have heard good things about System Three.  An added benefit is the 2:1 ratio which makes for easier math than West's standard 5:1 (not that it's rocket science).  Using a 2" chip brush, I put down a coat on the balsa substrate (not core, it is just to hold the laminate in place) and then put the first of 3 layers of glass down.  Saturated that with the chip brush and then repeated with the remaining 2 layers of cloth.  I left it to cure overnight.

I didn't really have a plan for today when I got up, but it was hard to focus at work and I found myself spending way too much time surfing the web on the Plastic Classic Forum and decided that since the weather was so nice that I should cut out of work early and get a head start on the cabintop layup by getting the balsa glued down in the small sections.  Even though these small areas have been a pain because they require a lot more linear area to grind and lots of pieces to cut, they are proving to be a good testing ground for the rest of the project when things get bigger.  If I screw up a section, its not the end of the world in terms of cost and work.  Plus, whatever I can get done and learn this week will certainly help me go faster and more efficiently when I take next week off. 

Anyway, I had everything fairly squared away when I got home from work so I just went to it.  First, I filled up a bunch of bags with dirt to use as weights once everything was setup.  Next, I mixed up an un-thickened 12 oz batch and wet out the inner skin of each area and the scrim side of each balsa core (scrim side down).  At this point I had only used half the batch and had plenty of pot life so I mixed in a cup or so of Aerosil (thixotropic powder) to make it a little thicker than honey and spread it out on the skin of 2 or 3 of the cutout areas and into the corners, then pressed several of the balsa cores in place.  Its cool that when the balsa is pressed in place, the thickened epoxy squishes out the sides and fills the gaps between the core and the rest of the deck area. 

Mixed up a second 12 oz batch and thickened it up to same consistency and filled in all the gaps of the balsa and any areas I missed along the edges and corners.  I also had enough to fill in the areas where hardware will be mounted and all the test holes I had drilled to find the initial bad spots.  Not sure if filling the holes was a good idea at this point (especially with Aerosil because it is a structural filler), but what the hell.

At this point it was probably time to stop so I went and had some dinner but while eating I thought about some advice that I had gotten from one of the crew at Plastic Classic Forum.  He had said that you can do the whole layup in one shot and avoid the blush removal and sanding to make way for the cloth.  He also suggested that you can even mix up the top fairing layer as well, but I figured that was a bit much on the first try and I want to make sure I get the cloth layup correct and want to be able to inspect it once it cures.  Basically, with this method you can save a significant amount of time and labor, and I figured that because these small areas are my testing ground, it would be a good place to see if it works.

So after a turkey burger and fries, I went back out and found that the thickened epoxy was hard but tacky
So I pressed in all the inner cloth pieces into place and smoothed them out with my shiny new 3" laminate roller like this.  I mixed up a 6 oz batch un-thickened and wet out the first layer of cloth and the tapered edges of the existing glass.  Another 6oz batch took care of the outer cloth layer and then used the laminate roller to get any trapped air bubbles out of the layup.  I hope at least; the laminate roller seems to work really well, and the cloth makes a satisfying popping sound as the air is forced out of the laminate.  Finally, I put some plastic over each of the layups and weighted them down with the bags of sand I filled earlier (too dark for photos at that point).  Hopefully all's gone well and I'll find a nice layup all in good shape tomorrow. 

Unless I missed a batch (which is possible), I think I used a total of around 40 oz of epoxy today.

Update:  I checked the layup on the way to work this morning having had everything sit overnight for 12 hours and I am really pleased with the outcome.  There doesn't appear to be any voids in the layups, and my plastic bag-o-sand weighting technique worked like a dream (sheet of plastic over layup, followed by big loose bag of sand spread evenly over the entire layup).

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Actually Moving Forward

When I bought all the supplies last week, I felt like I had reached a turning point where I could actually start rebuilding (even though I still have to tear up the decks after I finish the cabintop). I spent the week getting a head start on the recore by setting up the roll of 1708 biax glass for easy access and getting the core cutout and ready to go. I also ordered and received a ridiculously nice (and huge) pair of Wiss Scissors recommended by one of the folks over at Tim Lackey's Plastic Classic Forum. I got them at and I am astounded at how well they cut the biax. No effort whatsoever and perfect clean cuts. Definitely shouldn't run with these.

Joe at Mertons was nice enough to tightly wind the 30 yards of 50" biaxial glass on a big tube so it could be hung and rolled out easily. I decided that the best place for it would be up near where it would be used so I would have to drag it up a ladder every time I needed a piece. So I managed to wrestle it up into the rafters and hang from the bows on an old steel bar I had lying around the yard. Other than humping a 5 foot, 70 pound roll of fiberglass cloth up a ladder and hang it over the bow of the boat, it was reasonably straight forward. It ended up a little crooked, but as long as it rolls smoothly I could care less how it looks.

Next up, I took a roll of carpenters kraft paper and cut out templates for the core and glass parts of each area to be recored. So, once finished I had a numbered template for each core area and each glass area. Since I'll be using 2 layers of 1708, I sized the glass templates for the largest area to be covered and will cut the first piece to that size and the second piece will be approximately 1" smaller in size around the edges.

Once I had all the templates cut, I grabbed a few sheets of balsa core, put them scrim side up and traced each of the core templates onto them with a sharpie marker. Then it was a simple matter of taking a box cutter and following the marked lines. The balsa is really easy to cut but you have to be a bit careful so all the little blocks of balsa don't come unfastened from the scrim while cutting or handling.

I laid all the core pieces in place and made a few cutting adjustments to get all the pieces to fit properly. Finally, I measured the locations of any thru-deck fittings (handholds, hinges, etc...) and cut out areas where they would be going so I can put solid glass plugs in once the core gets glued in.

Last but not least, I had decided last week to simplify things (even further) by removing the chimney vent altogether. Realistically, I have never really needed anything more than a kerosene trawler's lamp to keep warm during my sailing season (May - November) and I just can't justify the added expense and complication of a woodstove.

So I had to rebuild the bottom deck skin where the chimney stack was located. I was able to take a few pieces of the old balsa and wedge it in between the headliner and the bottom skin that was still intact around the chimney stack. Then I cut out two circular layers of biax cloth to fill the gap. I will lay that up with unthickened epoxy and then do the core on top while still green.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Good Stuff

I finally made the trip down to Mertons Fiberglass Supply in Springfield to pick up supplies (see last post). I had never been to Mertons or knew anyone who had, but after a lot of online searching I found that they (he) had pretty much the best price for both epoxy and balsa core material. What sealed the deal though was that it was reasonably close so I could pick up my order and avoid shipping costs.

I didn't really know what to expect but I assumed that it was probably like any other marine store... Not So. Located in a very industrial section of Springfield, I suspect that Mertons low prices are due (at least in part) to their low overhead costs. The store is nothing more than a very run down warehouse surrounded by junked construction vehicles. There was no sign of a typical marine operation and I was beginning to wonder if I had made a poor choice until I went in and was greeted by Joe (Merton). Joe was really helpful and friendly and very knowledgeable of all things epoxy and fiberglass. It turns out Joe is also 'afflicted' (as he put it) with the boat bug and keeps his boats up in boothbay harbor.

All in all, Joe spent close to an hour with me getting my order together and wrapping everything up for travel in the back of my pickup. If I ever have to do a large restoration project again I will be going back to Mertons. Joe is a good guy and was really helpful.

Back in Canterbury, I unloaded the truck and got to work finishing up grinding the cabintop bevels and sanding the inner skin surface so the new core will sit flat once installed. Pete's suggestion of using 24 grit sanding discs on a flexible grinder backing plate worked out really well. The discs cut way quicker and the edge looked much cleaner than with the standard grinding wheel.

Once that was done, it was time to cleanup the huge mess I created when I started grinding the bevels. When I finished vacuuming up all the dust I felt like I had reached a minor milestone. I finally reached the point where I can start moving forward again and rebuilding instead of destroying. The next few weeks I am going to start cutting and dry fitting the balsa and biax cloth so I'll be ready to go when I take the last week of April off to do the layup.